Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Official Guest Invite to 2017 NISMO Festival! (Part 2)

So after lunch, as I gazed out onto the pit below us, I saw the Nismo race team manually moving the R33 LeMans cars.  So, I sensed it might be a good idea to leave the warm, cozy Guest Room and back into the cold.

Ronnie Quintarelli walking past the blue car

Right when I got downstairs, I received a text message from my buddy Matt Rearick - he was coming back from lunch too so we arranged to meet up in one of the pits where some of HIS friends had fielded a race car.  As we were chatting we also got a text from Abe (visiting from Hawaii!) who had just finished the "pit walk" and so we had a mini ClubR33 meet right there! (Dino is a member actually...)

Ironically, in front of a (Z) 34 car...
As we all had places to go, we said our goodbyes and I went outside with Dino and Alessandro again.

Where I ran into this beauty!
It was about this time that Dino, good guy that he is, felt that Alessandro should be able to enjoy the machines a bit closer up - so he lent him his Press Pass, and the two started enjoying close up access to incredible machines.

Watching from a distance, I realized that for a member of the Press, Alessandro looked ridiculous taking photos only with his iPhone. So, I leant him my Nikon DSLR but asked him to focus on the 33 cars.

Here is Alessandro, practicing with the auto setting.

This was the best shot I could get, from afar with my iPhone
Here is the car close up, thanks Alessandro!

And the No 22 car, taken with my iPhone
And by Alessandro.
Alessandro and Dino, both exhausted by all the hard work.
But I have to say, Alessandro has a very good eye for photography. He knows how to get just the right angles.

Slightly different angle - which one do you prefer, this or the one above?

Probably my favorite photo by Alessandro that day.
Here are the machines from the other side (33s and 32s)
And before the cars were driven out, with their drivers for the day. Toshio Suzuki took this one.
And Masahiko "Match" Kondo, who started out first as a pop singer and then transitioned to race cars! He now runs his own team, but was one of the original drivers for this car at LeMans! 
nice closeup!

The Penzoil 23 from the side.
 Then, it was time for the LeMans cars to leave the pits and hit the race track!
Dino not really caring, but engaging in debate with Ronnie!

Although they weren't lapping at full speed (I'm guessing around 250kph?), it's hard to understand how fast these cars were going on photo, so here is a video I took from back up in the warm Guest Room.

It seemed too soon, but the cars started coming off the track.

Meanwhile Mr. GTR was busy getting his photo taken with two other greats - Hoshino-san and the Drift King! 
probably my favorite photo of the day. This car is just WOW
Match pulled the car in without issue. Not as pretty from above as the Clarion car IMO.
It was now about 4pm, and time to leave before the rest of the crowd also did. So, Dino and I gave Alessandro a ride to his rental car, and then we proceeded to try to beat traffic. We agreed to avoid the Tomei Expressway going home and have some fun doing so by taking the touge roads up in Hakone and going around the worst of the traffic on the Tomei.
But first, I had to get some gas, and for some reason the IS-F indicated it was low on oil, so we stopped off at a gas station to get that taken care of.
I guess even Toyota V-8s burn oil...
Unluckily, some genius decided to have an accident on the stretch of road right past where we would merge from the mountain road, which meant that our time back STILL took 6 hours! Mind you, in the morning we got to Fuji Speedway in about 90 minutes, so this was an all time worst. 
Here is the genius that caused the enormous traffic jam. Now how exactly does someone end up doing this?
Finally, the traffic cleared past Machida and we picked up enough speed for me to enjoy a fun drive home. Next year, I will think about getting a hotel room and staying the night, OR getting someone to drive ME out there...

I hope this two part chronology gave you a sense of what the Nismo Festival is like!

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